21/02/2013 Question Time


21/02/2013

David Dimbleby chairs Question Time from St Paul's Cathedral in London, with a panel including Vince Cable MP, Diane Abbott MP, Lord Heseltine, Rev Giles Fraser and Peter Hitchens.


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Tonight, Question Time comes from St Paul's Cathedral in London. We

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are directly under the great dome designed by Sir Christopher wren

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and this is of course primarily a place of worship but it's also used

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as a place to debate the great issues of the day often actually

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right here under the dome, or in centuries past, outside in the

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cathedral precinct by St Paul's Good evening to you at home and to

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our add Jens here at St Paul's and to our panel, the Business

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Secretary, Vince Cable, the Shadow Health Minister, Diane Abbott, the

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former Deputy Prime Minister, Michael Heseltine, Mail on Sunday

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columnist, Peter Hitchens and the Reverend Giles Fraser back in St

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Paul's for the first time since he resigned his post here over the

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handling of the protesters in last year's Occupy camp.

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Thanks very much and Matt Babington has our first question? In light of

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the recent high profile case, is it time for fundamental overhauls in

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the way people are selected for jury service?

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The Vicky Pryce case of course was led to the jury being dismissed. Is

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it time for a fundamental overhaul of the way people are selected?

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Diane Abbott? No. I think the principle that you are judged by a

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jury of your peers is very important. One thing we have to

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remember about the case in question was that the point at issue was

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this notion of marital coercion and I'd not heard of it as a legal

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concept before now. I'm not surprised, in a way that, the jury

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got a bit muddled. This clearly wasn't perhaps the best jury one

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has ever heard of, but if you speak to lawyers and judges and people in

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the legal profession, the principle of trial by jury is very important

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and it helps to give the legal system some legitimacy because

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jurors by and large are the only part of the criminal justice system

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which is actually a cross section of the wider society.

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Peter Hitchens? Yes, it does need an overhaul. It's partly because it

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was overhauled and people do know it and some don't, the old property

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qualification was dropped and people say that was unjust. There

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was a lot of discussion at the time as to whether we should then have

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some kind of educational qualification, but they couldn't

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agree, so they said everybody on the electoral role should be on the

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jury. At that time, the minimum age for voting was 21, it's now dropped

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to 18. I think that, although many juries, and I think many people may

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have served on them, are extremely serious and do their job very well,

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there is a number of juriesry falls below the proper standard which

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contain people who simply can't capable of judging the facts before

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them properly. I think it's time we had some sort of educational

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qualification and also some sort of minimum age. I think 18 is too

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young to decide the fate of another human being.

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What was the property qualification and why do you think that was

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better? I don't think it was better, it needed to be reformed. In those

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days, it ruled out in England women almost entirely. In Scotland, they

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adjusted it so it allowed women in, but it meant you had to be middle

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class to be on a jury and they decided this had to go. In their

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thrust, they could not think of any educational or any other

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qualification to set in its place so everybody gets on. It's clear

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that not everybody, and if you were facing trial and your entire future

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and liberty and reputation depended on 12 people, you would be worried

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by some of the juries which people have to face. There's another thing

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about this which we again forget, back in the 60s, Roy Jenkins got

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rid of unanimous juries and many will have seen the film 12 Angry

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Men. The whole principle was that it had to be unanimous where if

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someone was convinced about someone's guilt, they could hold

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out until the end until everyone agreed with them. Now it's gone and

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it's a matter of time passing and the judge can say, go away and get

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a majority. These protections are very important for a free society,

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otherwise a trial is nothing but the state ganging up on you.

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woman in the middle? I'm a serving police officer. I've seen a number

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of juries and a number of different almost types of jurys in different

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courts and it's quite apparent that there are some major failings in

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the system. I've seen jurors falling asloop and yet they are not

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challenged in the court -- asleep. There are real concerns around

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things like that. It's difficult to suggest an educational standard as

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a minimum but I suggest if failing on the part -- a failing on the

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part of the prosecution or defence not to ensure that you are working

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to the lowest common denominator, whether they have a HPD or whether

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they completed school should make no difference, it should be give

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tonne them in the words that they can comprehend what's happening --

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PhD. But what if you have a jury... It's weird for a juror to say come

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to a verdict base on the a reason that wasn't presented in court and

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has no facts to support it either from the prosecution or defence.

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What was that all about? Giles Fraser? I couldn't disagree more

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with you, Peter, about that business about having to be

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intelligent to be on a jury. We have a common law, it's law that's

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judged by the common people, we all judge each other, that's using

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common-sense. The idea that intelligence is some way of

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protecting us against some sort of irrationality in making these

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decisions is not fair. David was right when he said reason is a

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slave to the passions and reason isn't always what you want. You

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want people, us ordinary people, judging each other, that's a basic

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principle and if you have to be clever or posh or have a house, I

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think that fundamentally undermines a basic principle of justice. We,

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as the people of this country, judge each other in court. Can I

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just say, it's not intelligence. This is very important this, it's

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not some kind of IQ rating that I'm suggesting, it's experience and

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wisdom. You are deciding the fate of a fellow human. It's not

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intelligence. I understand that. The man in the front? This is one

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high profile case. Had it not been in the newspapers and the media, we

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wouldn't know about it. This is just another knee-jerk reaction

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brought about by people like yourself, Peter, who'll do it

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because it's something to shout about.

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Michael Heseltine? It's very important really. The point about

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the exception case is important and I strongly would argue for the

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status quo. Peter helped me by giving examples of the sort of

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changes that he had in mind. He mentioned age. Well, we are

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perfectly prepared to send people out at the age of 18 to kill people

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in Britain's name all over the world where it's appropriate and

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are you seriously telling me they are too young to make a judgment

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about what is right or wrong? I don't believe that.

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APPLAUSE And Peter's other point was, they

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need to be educated. Who is going to decide who is and who is not

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educated or what being educated amounts to? The moment you start

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asking these questions, you have to have someone to make the decision.

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Who makes the decision? People appointed by the party politicians?

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Some independent group of worthys who've got an intellectual approach

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to life? You tell me of someone that you would accept as a

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reasonable alternative for one ludicrous decision by a jury to ask

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the question David asked drk can we take into account evidence for

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which there is no fact, nothing to base it on and was never raised in

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this court? How can you begin to ask a question like that if you are

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sitting on a jury? The man on the gangway? I think as

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soon as you start making it about someone's educational level or

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their age, you make it a preserve of a certain strata of society

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which I thought was counterproductive to what the whole

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point was. I suppose the assumption isn't that all 12 jurors wanted to

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ask this question but maybe one or two did, isn't it? And then the

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rest of the jury said, we can't explain it to you, we'd better get

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the judge to explain it to you. Is that your reading of it? Yes, the

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point's been made that this was a very odd case and unusual trial.

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The point is, you are going to get people on juries that are not very

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bright and jurors that are incompetent, but you will get

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judges and prosecutors who are incompetent. Giles is right, it's

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one of the basic principles of criminal justice in the UK that you

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have a right to be tried by your peers through a jury. We tamper

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with it at our peril. At the past, politicians have tried to remove

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jury trials, it was suggested that the ordinary members of public are

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not bright enough to deal with fraud trials. That was a backward

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move. I think the jury system is obviously going to have bad cases

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but we should preserve the principles, it's a right one and we

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should treasure it. One more point and we'll move on. The lady there?

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Should we ensure that all jurors can speak English and understand

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English? I don't think that was the issue... That's not the question.

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This was an exceptional jury and you shouldn't make extrapolations

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about juries, you know, a lady there said she'd seen jurors

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falling asleep, I've heard of judges falling asleep and

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barristers that could send you to sleep.

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LAUGHTER I believe that the right to a jury trial by people that look

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like a cross section of the wider community is absolutely crucial for

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people like my constituents continuing to have confidence in

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the criminal justice system. must be right that... But you do

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have to speak English? It must be right that you have to speak

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English or you can't begin to understand the trial. That's not an

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issue. It wasn't named as an issue in this particular case, but there

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will be cases, and there are cases, where some jurors don't have

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English as their first language and may speak it but may not fully

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understand the nuances of some of the stuff that is discussed and

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someone in court might have an interpreter, but the jury members

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donts. -- don't. donts. -- don't.

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APPLAUSE This is not just an individual case.

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If you are conscious of what is going on in the courts and pay

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attention and report on them, you will see there is a problem with

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juries which goes wider than this case. One thing I might say to

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Michael Heseltine, the very run why we send young men out as soldiers

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often wrongly is because they are young, unwise and prepared to kill

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and risk terrible danger in a way that wise people wouldn't and...

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That is true... The truth is not popular but it's the case. Why do

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we send young men out to kill? Xaept because of that and secondly,

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you might be aware of the fact that there are strong moves to lower the

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voting age to 16. How many of you want your futures decided by 16-

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year-olds? APPLAUSE As a former Secretary of

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State for Defence to describe the British armed forces in the wrai

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you did is disgraceful -- way you did is disgraceful.

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APPLAUSE. I haven't described the British armed forces in any sense

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at all, I've... You described the soldiers in language which was

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viciously unfair to them. Young men are unwise, you were unwise when

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you were young and so was I and don't try to deny it or silence me

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with silly rhetoric. It's ridiculous. I've said nothing

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uncomplimentary about the Armed Forces and you know it perfectly

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well. You wait until you see the transcript.

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Just to clarify, perhaps you would say what you said about 18-year-

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olds once more? We cynical politicians send young men out to

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kill and be killed. That's what I said. No, it's not what you said.

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It is. You said they were stupid. said no such thing. Check the

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recording. We'll see the record. You, Sir? I'm 18, joining the Armed

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Forces next year, I think I can make an educated decision much more

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than older people. I'm mature enough to decide on what I want to

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do and also to be on a jury if I The next question is from Tom Crill.

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Heather Frost, an unemployed mother of 11, is being a six-bedroom eco-

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mansion by her local council. Is this an example of society looking

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after those in need? Or is it a waste of taxpayers' money? Vince

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Cable? We don't know a great deal about this family other than what

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her neighbours didn't approve of her told one of the popular

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newspapers. This was, as I understand it, was not a mansion.

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It was being occupied at two-and-a- half people a room. She was accused

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of having a horse. She had quite a large family and, as I understand

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it, the older children were working and earning and paid for it. The

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really serious issue was that the popular press went for this lady

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because she had a large number of children, she had 11 children. The

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argument was isn't this woman feckless? Well, it turned out when

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people investigated that she was sterile. She has had cervical

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cancer and nobody had the sensitivity to realise that was her

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problem. They jumped on this bandwagon, a woman with a horse, a

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big house, let's trash her, it is a good way of attacking the benefits

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system. It was outrageous the way it was dealt with. OK. Iain Duncan

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Smith in your Government has floated the idea of capping child

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benefits to two children, hasn't he? After two children, it is up to

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you? That is a foolish suggestion. I have said so many times.

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think it won't happen? Of course it won't happen. What they do under

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the Conservative Government is up to them. This is not coalition

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policy. Michael Heseltine? It is not the component policy of the

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Conservative Party. So why should I try to defend what is not in

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existence? Iain Duncan Smith floating a few thoughts? I don't

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know what that amounts to. Does it mean that someone said he had said

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it? Did some adviser say, "We are going to ask him to do it."?

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said it to the Today programme, which is The Bible of modern

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politics(!) He suggested a cap on child-related benefits for two

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children. The fact is that he has been a pioneer in looking at the

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whole back to work agenda and he's floating an idea which is his.

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Let's get back to Heather Frost. And the 11 children and the eco-

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mansion that is being built. What is your view of that? I think I

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start off where virtually everybody would start off and say why are we

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providing facilities of this sort for somebody who has got 11

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children? That is way out of what normal expectation is. That is one

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in the gut starts. Now you put yourself in the position of the

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local authority. The fact is what are they going to do? Will they put

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her on the street? They have to have a solution. If there were 11

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children, it takes a lot of accommodation. If I was in the

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local authority, I would never put her on the street. You then have a

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problem. Fortunately, it is so much of an exceptional problem that I

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don't think we ought to turn it into public policy. The man up

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there on the right? The simple reason why we are providing this

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house is the Conservative- originated policy of selling all

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the council houses. Peter Hitchens? That point is absolutely right. The

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much-lauded policy of selling council houses has been a

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catastrophe for this country. It has deprived us of a very important

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resource for a cheap electoral gain. The way in which this decision is

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now universally praised always puzzles me. I think now that

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housing benefit - it costs more than the Royal Air Force and it is

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a much more inefficient, unfair and wasteful way of housing people than

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the council houses used to be. The issue about the lady herself - I'm

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all in favour of big families. They should be founded upon marriage and

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they should be founded upon people supporting themselves if at all

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possible. If you set up a system where welfare payments are paid and

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houses given to people who are not in that circumstance, you can't be

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surprised when they take advantage of that system. I don't blame this

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lady for what she has done at all. I blame the politicians who, for 50

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years, have encouraged this kind of behaviour. You can't say it is the

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responsibility of people who look at the system and take advantage of

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it. That is absurd. If we want it to stop, we need to say, "Reform

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the welfare system which you have made absurdly overgenerous and do

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something about restoring the institution of marriage which you

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have destroyed." APPLAUSE Giles Fraser? I think it is scandalous

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that we are using the example of this woman as propaganda for

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benefit cuts. We are being softened up by examples like this that there

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is some distinction between the deserving and undeserving poor. It

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is a cover for a much greater scandal which is the scandal in our

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housing market, the scandal of what's happening to poor people,

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particularly in London where house prices are so out of control and

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ordinary people can't live here and what's happening at the moment in

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London is that ordinary people are being priced out of the centre of

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town and we will end up being like Paris in this country where all of

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the poor people live on the outside and the wealthy live on the middle.

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These are the real scandals. You find one small example of a woman

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like this which tugs at this seems unfair. It is propaganda for a

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nastier form of cuts. That is the real scandal here. You, Sir? Well,

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after doing just a little bit of research, I found out a bit more.

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It wasn't a local authority that built the house for her. The local

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authority sold the land to a housing association, the housing

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association then built the house. She doesn't own the house. She is

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paying rent on it. Being a caseworker, I know that once she

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leaves, she does leave that house, another large family will pay rent

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to the housing association. Isn't this another example of stories

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that demonise people on benefit because it's now become public

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enanynumber one? As a caseworker, I used -- public enemy number one? As

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a caseworker, I have worked hard all my life. This is making people

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feel ashamed of the money they have taken. We know the economy is bad.

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There are more people on benefits. We should be helping these people,

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not hindering them. OK. The man on the back row? The reason the UK has

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such large volumes of debt is because of these high welfare

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payouts. We can't afford to build people houses. What do you think of

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this case? It is an example of how generous these welfare benefits are

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that we can't afford. The man over there on the left? I take issue

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with the Canon. Anybody has an entitlement to live in Central

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London. I live in Hertfordshire. I can't afford to live in Central

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London. Why should people have it as an entitlement? APPLAUSE You

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want to answer that? The question is what sort of city do we want? Do

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we want a city full of very, very expensive houses owned by Russian

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oligarchs where no-one lives, it becomes a ghost town and all the

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poorer people live on the outside? We want a London that is a mix of

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people. I understand, I couldn't afford to live in London in a

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million years. I understand that. The idea that ordinary people can't

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afford to live in London I think is a scandal. We will come to a

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question that is pertinent to that in a moment. Diane Abbott? Anybody

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who thinks that overall the welfare system is absurdly overgenerous

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doesn't know many people trying to live on welfare benefit. Not a week

:23:28.:23:35.

goes by without one of these scare stories, picking out someone who

:23:35.:23:40.

doesn't seem like a member of the deserving poor, they are splashed

:23:40.:23:49.

in our tabloid papers and it is to soften us up for benefit cuts. And

:23:49.:23:53.

when you drill down with these stories, it is never what it seems.

:23:53.:23:57.

She's not been given a house, as the gentleman pointed out. The

:23:57.:24:02.

council sold a piece of land for �220,000 to a housing association

:24:02.:24:07.

who have built a six-bedroom unit on it which she's going to be

:24:07.:24:12.

allocated. When her children leave home, she will have to move out.

:24:12.:24:18.

The point is this: It has been a principle of British welfare

:24:18.:24:25.

legislation since the 1945 National Assistance Act that we don't put

:24:25.:24:29.

children on the street. The gentleman that said it is a waste

:24:29.:24:32.

of public money. What are you suggesting? Are you suggesting the

:24:32.:24:38.

children would go into care? You cannot take these bad, difficult

:24:38.:24:44.

cases and use them to undermine our system of welfare. There is an

:24:44.:24:47.

underlying narrative, oh London, Hackney, the East End is full of

:24:47.:24:51.

people on benefits who don't want to work. I see more people on

:24:51.:24:58.

benefits every week. I don't see people who don't want to work. I

:24:58.:25:04.

see people that want to work. Kids that have left university, people

:25:04.:25:09.

that have been made redundant who want to work and cannot get jobs.

:25:09.:25:14.

I'm glad unemployment is coming down. The issue is not this one

:25:14.:25:19.

woman with her Baroque case. The issue is how we are softened up for

:25:19.:25:23.

increasing benefit cuts whereby the poor pay for financial prices which

:25:23.:25:33.
:25:33.:25:35.

bankers made. APPLAUSE You, Sir? The fact that every penny collected

:25:35.:25:40.

in income tax goes on welfare, that is a sign that the welfare is too

:25:40.:25:44.

big? Half of that money goes to pensioners? Are you suggesting we

:25:44.:25:51.

should stop paying old able pensions? Not at all. The amount of

:25:51.:25:57.

income tax doesn't cover the Navy, the Army. Most money that is

:25:57.:26:03.

collected goes on welfare and pensions. It's a huge amount.

:26:03.:26:08.

you suggesting that we should spend more on helicopter gunships and

:26:08.:26:14.

less on the most vulnerable in our society? Not at all. You are

:26:14.:26:17.

suggesting the proportion of money spent on welfare is greater than it

:26:17.:26:21.

should be from the tax take, is that your point? If every penny

:26:21.:26:25.

collected goes on welfare, all the other things that have to be paid

:26:25.:26:31.

for... Vince Cable, the man in the know on this? Let's start from the

:26:31.:26:35.

same point. This was a banking- induced crisis. We are paying the

:26:35.:26:39.

price for it. The economy is smaller and we are poorer. There is

:26:39.:26:43.

a genuine problem about the welfare budget. That doesn't mean to say

:26:43.:26:48.

you should demonise the people who are beneficiaries of it. The budget

:26:48.:26:52.

is rising rapidly and we have to deal with it. There is a problem

:26:52.:26:58.

around housing benefit. Giles explained the reason that in London

:26:58.:27:01.

85,000 council houses have been lost, they were sold. There are

:27:01.:27:05.

more people needing them so they are pushed into the private sector,

:27:05.:27:09.

rents go through the roof, you, the taxpayer, has to subsidise the

:27:09.:27:12.

landlords to keep those people in place and the budget gets out of

:27:12.:27:17.

control. That is why we have introduced some painful and

:27:17.:27:21.

difficult measures. It is possible - it is right - to be compassionate

:27:21.:27:24.

to people who are genuinely poor and need help while recognising

:27:24.:27:28.

that there is a real problem with the welfare budget. We have to deal

:27:28.:27:35.

with it. It is very interesting - the whole financial explosion began

:27:35.:27:45.
:27:45.:27:48.

in America when President Clinton encouraged them to be more generous.

:27:48.:27:53.

It then became a phenomenon across the Western world. You can single

:27:53.:27:59.

out the bankers. Nobody is likely to defend them. We are in the City

:27:59.:28:06.

of London. Governments spent more money than their economies could

:28:06.:28:11.

afford. Individuals borrowed on their credit cards, on mortgages,

:28:11.:28:15.

they are all hocked up to the eyeballs and the bankers are in the

:28:15.:28:21.

middle. We were all in the same game, politically, economically,

:28:21.:28:25.

banking companies, the whole lot. The bubble burst. When it burst,

:28:25.:28:31.

everybody drew in their horns. It is so easy to find someone to blame.

:28:31.:28:34.

We were all involved in this, particularly the last Labour

:28:34.:28:44.
:28:44.:28:51.

Government. No. Let's move on. It is from Kate Horton. The latest

:28:51.:28:55.

census suggests that white Brits are in a minority in London

:28:55.:29:00.

accounting for 45% of residents. Is this a good or a bad long-term

:29:00.:29:04.

trend? The latest census suggests white British-born are in a

:29:04.:29:08.

minority in London, 45% of residents. Is it good, or a bad

:29:08.:29:18.
:29:18.:29:24.

$:/STARTFEED. Michael Heseltine? there's one speech I made of which

:29:24.:29:29.

I was proud, it was in 1981, which included the words "They are black,

:29:29.:29:32.

they are British, they were born here, they vote here." that is a

:29:32.:29:42.

fact. So there's nothing you can do to turn back history. I defied my

:29:42.:29:48.

party in the late 60s over the race relations Bill when I believed that

:29:48.:29:52.

anyone who's lived in this country was entitled to live here within

:29:52.:29:59.

the law without prejudice and with equal opportunity. That now is the

:29:59.:30:03.

position so is it strong, is it weak, is it right, is it wrong? It

:30:03.:30:07.

is a fact, and we should live with it and we should build on it and we

:30:07.:30:11.

should see the incredible talent that there is in the immigrant

:30:11.:30:15.

community and always has been, whether they were Jews or Catholics,

:30:15.:30:20.

whatever, that's a different issue, but still, it's the same issue that

:30:20.:30:23.

we have had many diverse groups of people and the only way we will all

:30:23.:30:27.

prosper is to treat them well, live with them and give them the

:30:27.:30:32.

opportunity to contribute to the wider benefit of society which they

:30:32.:30:35.

want to do because actually they have exact think same instincts

:30:35.:30:39.

that we do. They want to be happy, they want to love their children,

:30:39.:30:44.

live in peace, live in the law and the vast majority of them want to

:30:44.:30:51.

work hard. APPLAUSE

:30:51.:30:54.

Kate buzz that answer your question?

:30:54.:30:59.

Yes, I think so. I wanted to know everyone's views on that. All right.

:30:59.:31:04.

What do you think, Peter Hitchens, about the balance that she's

:31:04.:31:11.

described? Well, my gauge rises at the use of the word "White". The

:31:11.:31:16.

issue should never be and really should never be the colour of

:31:16.:31:19.

somebody's skin. I thought we all very long ago accepted that what

:31:19.:31:22.

mattered about somebody was not the colour of his skin but the content

:31:22.:31:26.

of his character. I'm not interested in what colour they are.

:31:26.:31:33.

Why does the census... I don't know. Should the census... Many... The

:31:33.:31:38.

real question is, does a country which has a very large amount of

:31:38.:31:42.

immigration adapt to the immigrants or do the immigrants who arrive in

:31:42.:31:48.

that country adapt to that country? And it's my very strong view that

:31:48.:31:52.

the only hope of a tranquil and peaceful and productive and

:31:52.:31:56.

successful society is that the migrants adapt to the place to

:31:56.:32:00.

which they come. For very many years, we have not been encouraging

:32:00.:32:04.

or indeed helping them to do that. We have been encouraging through a

:32:04.:32:07.

policy of official state multiculturalism that people should

:32:07.:32:10.

stay separate and remain within their migrant communities. We have

:32:10.:32:13.

not created a single British nationality. There are various

:32:13.:32:17.

feeble efforts to make them take exams in how to claim social

:32:17.:32:22.

security benefits or who was Winston Churchill - that's not the

:32:22.:32:26.

same. We have ceased to be proud of our own country culture, history,

:32:27.:32:31.

religion, language and we haven't asked our new citizens to be proud

:32:31.:32:36.

of them either. I see the result of that. It's not a question of

:32:36.:32:38.

whether they are white, it's a question of whether they are

:32:38.:32:41.

British. Britain is ceasing to become Britain, that is my view and

:32:41.:32:46.

that's a great shame for us who're here and for those who've come.

:32:46.:32:51.

APPLAUSE You, Sir? I had the privilege to be

:32:51.:32:56.

a games maker during the Paralympic Games last year, London 2012. We'd

:32:56.:33:01.

not have got those Games had we not been a diverse and international

:33:01.:33:08.

City. I had the privilege of meeting citizens of 20, 30, 40

:33:08.:33:12.

different countries during my time as a Games maker and I said to them

:33:12.:33:16.

"What do you think of the Paralympics, what do you think of

:33:16.:33:19.

London?" and the common response that I got wherever in the world

:33:19.:33:25.

they come from is "London is my second favourite City". London is

:33:25.:33:30.

their favourite second city because of its diversity, because of its

:33:30.:33:33.

international perspective, because of its history.

:33:33.:33:39.

The person up there? APPLAUSE I was just following on

:33:39.:33:42.

from that gentleman's point that I don't think that immigrants come

:33:42.:33:45.

here to become British, they come here because it's the closest they

:33:45.:33:48.

can find to a democracy where they can live the lives that they want

:33:48.:33:51.

to live to follow the face that they want to follow -- faith that

:33:51.:33:55.

they want to follow, and that should be celebrated and that's

:33:55.:34:01.

what makes Britain British. Giles Fraser, can I just repeat the

:34:01.:34:05.

question. The latest census says white British are now in a minority

:34:05.:34:10.

in London, 45% of residents. Is that good or bad as a trend?

:34:10.:34:14.

indifferent to it. I think it makes no difference, white, black,

:34:14.:34:18.

whatever. I'm not interested and I don't think that the census ought

:34:18.:34:22.

to collect that information at all. I mean, the point, the underlying

:34:22.:34:27.

point is that I think London is the most wonderfully diverse place in

:34:27.:34:31.

the world, I wouldn't want to live anywhere else precisely because of

:34:31.:34:35.

that. It's always had a history of welcoming people from all around

:34:35.:34:41.

the world. My surname was originally Freederberg, not Fraser,

:34:41.:34:46.

because a lots of my family came over here as Jews and contributed

:34:46.:34:50.

greatly to the society as waves of people from all around the world

:34:50.:34:54.

have done so. It enriches our culture and the idea that it's a

:34:54.:35:00.

problem that multiculturalism is a problem. I'm an unashamed

:35:00.:35:04.

multiculturalist, it adds hugely to what is so rich and exciting about

:35:04.:35:08.

place like this. You disagree with Peter? Completely.

:35:08.:35:12.

The woman up there in the back row? My grandparents came to this

:35:13.:35:17.

country in the early 20th century as immigrants from Eastern Europe

:35:17.:35:22.

and brought up my parent who is in turn brought up me to respect

:35:22.:35:30.

everything British. This country fed us, clothed us, educated us. I

:35:30.:35:35.

don't think it's a problem with colour, I think any problem that we

:35:35.:35:42.

have is in my grandparents house, English was spoken, everybody was

:35:42.:35:47.

expected to learn our host language, to learn our host manners, to

:35:47.:35:50.

respect the law, et cetera, and everything that goes with it. So

:35:50.:35:54.

when people are talking about colour, I don't actually think they

:35:54.:35:57.

are meaning colour, I think they are meaning culture and that's

:35:57.:36:02.

where I think that we have to integrate to get a fully integrated

:36:02.:36:06.

community. Diane Abbott?

:36:06.:36:11.

APPLAUSE Well, I'm one of those 55% non-

:36:12.:36:17.

white people living in London. Let me say this; London is the City

:36:17.:36:21.

that immigration made. It's not a question of London tolerating

:36:21.:36:27.

immigrants, immigrants made London, whether it was Irish in the 19th

:36:27.:36:30.

century, whether it was Asian shopkeepers, whether it's French

:36:30.:36:36.

and American bankers in the City of London, all the great world Cities,

:36:36.:36:42.

London and New York and Paris, they are built by immigrants from people

:36:42.:36:46.

that attract all over the world. As for the talk of how we non-white

:36:46.:36:52.

Britons have to adapt to British culture, there is no group of

:36:52.:36:58.

people more passionately pro- British, more passionately pro-

:36:58.:37:04.

Royalty actually than amongst the west Indians with whom I grew up.

:37:04.:37:08.

It's crude to assume that because you were born overseas you don't

:37:08.:37:11.

love this country and the Royal Family. There is talk about fewer

:37:11.:37:15.

white people and they are moving out. The demographic patterns in

:37:15.:37:20.

London are to do with class, not colour. My parents came to this

:37:20.:37:24.

country, lived in Paddington. They moved out to Harrow, then to

:37:24.:37:29.

Edgware. Now, my brother lives in Buckinghamshire. That's not white

:37:29.:37:33.

flight, that is people gradually moving up the social ladder. Class

:37:33.:37:38.

is the issue, not race. I'm proud to be a Londoner, I'm proud London

:37:38.:37:42.

is one of the most diverse cities on the planet and that is what

:37:42.:37:48.

makes it a great city, its diversity.

:37:48.:37:50.

APPLAUSE I agree with everything Diane's

:37:50.:37:56.

just said. As it happens, I have a racially mixed family of my own. I

:37:56.:37:59.

don't know whether my three children and grandchildren are

:37:59.:38:04.

regarded as white or non-white on your definition, I mean I think

:38:04.:38:09.

the... The census? Well it's offence toif try to draw

:38:09.:38:14.

conclusions based on it and it takes us back to the kind of South

:38:14.:38:18.

African apartheid. Do you think the census should abandon this? I think

:38:19.:38:22.

it should. It creates unnecessary gition. Going back to the original

:38:22.:38:26.

question, is this good or bad - what is bad is if you get

:38:26.:38:30.

segregation and ghettos. Some American cities have that. I don't

:38:30.:38:36.

think it's happening in London, I think London is a much more mobile,

:38:36.:38:40.

vibrant city and our ethnic minorities spread out. I represent

:38:40.:38:44.

a constituency in South West London, Twickenham, when I first went to

:38:44.:38:50.

live there it was almost exclusively white. Now it has an

:38:50.:38:56.

ethnic minority population of 10- 12%, it's ethnically mixed, and

:38:56.:39:00.

that's desirable and white. Where the public debate is, it shouldn't

:39:01.:39:04.

be about race. If there is an argument about migration and much

:39:04.:39:08.

of it in London has been from eastern yap, it's from Poland,

:39:08.:39:12.

Lithuania and they of course make a positive contribution to the

:39:12.:39:17.

economy. But the migration issue is separate from the white non-white

:39:17.:39:27.
:39:27.:39:27.

thing which I think we should bury. You, Sir? There is an article on

:39:27.:39:32.

the BBC News web page highlighting a white population the size of

:39:32.:39:37.

Glasgow's left London, so it is white flight which kind of

:39:37.:39:41.

highlights that this integration isn't happening. It's a class issue.

:39:41.:39:46.

It is not the case that white Londoners look at an area and think,

:39:46.:39:50.

there's lots of people, I'm not moving there. Middle class people

:39:50.:39:55.

are moving into Hackney, Brixton, even moving into Brent which was

:39:55.:39:59.

very western when I was a child. There is an issue about class. The

:39:59.:40:04.

issue about colour is I think a misnomer.

:40:04.:40:08.

Michael Heseltine? I think the fascinating thing to me is that

:40:08.:40:12.

London is, as we all know, enormously diverse today and Boris

:40:12.:40:17.

Johnson's just become an elected mayor and that says something about

:40:17.:40:25.

the spread of interests that exist. I don't follow that one. It is,

:40:25.:40:28.

because if it was a class phenomenon and the poor and all

:40:28.:40:33.

that and the blacks... They wouldn't have voted for Boris?

:40:33.:40:38.

That's right. The point I want to make is about the census. It so

:40:39.:40:42.

happens that in a job I'm doing for the Government at the moment, we

:40:42.:40:50.

are looking at the ethnic mix of Birmingham. You can get statistics

:40:50.:40:56.

which show that the unemployment levels in Birmingham are bad

:40:56.:41:01.

compared with other parts of the country. But if you then look at

:41:01.:41:07.

the ethnic mix of certain communities, you find that they are

:41:07.:41:12.

very significantly Pakistani or Bangladeshi. The women in those

:41:12.:41:16.

communities, for cultural reasons, don't want to work on the same

:41:16.:41:21.

proportionate levels as other groups of people. So by knowing the

:41:22.:41:26.

racial mix, you realise that it's not that the economy isn't working

:41:26.:41:30.

in those areas, it's simply that the culture within those families

:41:30.:41:35.

persuades the women not to try and work. So it can be helpful in

:41:35.:41:40.

knowing what the problems are. OK. Do you agree with that? You,

:41:40.:41:44.

Sir? Well, before everyone jumps on the bandwagon that Britain is

:41:44.:41:50.

losing its Britishness, I would like to ask people like Peter

:41:50.:41:55.

Hitchens define being British? Sorry, what is the question? Define

:41:55.:41:58.

being British. He wants you to define being British before you

:41:58.:42:03.

assert that Britain is losing its Britishness. I don't think David

:42:03.:42:07.

wouldn't allow me to go on long enough. David wouldn't allow you to

:42:07.:42:17.

go on very long, no. I've write an good book about this. We won't

:42:17.:42:21.

allow you to promote your book. Which I would invite you the read.

:42:21.:42:25.

We'll move on. We have had a certain amount of time on that and

:42:25.:42:30.

I want a question from Peter Beaumont, please? Are the numbers

:42:30.:42:33.

in George Osborne's economic strategy as wildly optimistic as

:42:33.:42:38.

his forecast for the 4G auction? Remembering that they were hoping

:42:38.:42:46.

to raise �3.5 billion and only got �2 and a bit from the announcement

:42:46.:42:51.

today and it was a key component of the Osborne economic strategy in

:42:51.:42:55.

the Autumn Statement that this money would come through so they

:42:55.:43:01.

seem to have a large hole there. Giles Fraser, do you think that the

:43:01.:43:07.

optimism that George Osborne shows is as exemplified by the 4G

:43:07.:43:14.

auction? Well, it's clear that the numbers don't add up and that...

:43:14.:43:19.

Stkpwhrs which numbers? They don't add up in the last budget which was

:43:19.:43:23.

premised on the fact that there was going to be more money coming in

:43:23.:43:28.

from the sale of 4G. But actually, it's a wider problem, the problem

:43:28.:43:34.

about the way in which that budget really doesn't work because it's

:43:34.:43:38.

premised on the idea that austerity is the only way forward. I think

:43:38.:43:43.

it's just another example of how the numbers don't work out for the

:43:43.:43:46.

current Government and what we really need to do is invest money

:43:46.:43:50.

in our infrastructure, particularly in our housing, to stimulate the

:43:50.:43:54.

economy, to create more growth and so that actually we can find a way

:43:54.:43:58.

of getting this economy kick started again. But at the moment,

:43:58.:44:03.

if all we are doing is garrotting our economy with austerity, we are

:44:03.:44:13.
:44:13.:44:17.

never going to find a way forward. It looks like it will balloon under

:44:17.:44:23.

the coalition to something like �600 billion more in the

:44:23.:44:28.

coalition's time in office? Isn't that sensible? What we are trying

:44:28.:44:34.

to do is to reduce - sorry to use economic jargon - the structural

:44:34.:44:38.

deficit. It is the amount of revenue we used to get from the

:44:38.:44:42.

banking system that disappeared. The Government has to deal with

:44:42.:44:47.

that over time. We started hoping to do this over four years. We are

:44:47.:44:52.

now planning to do it over seven, which is the time period the last

:44:52.:44:57.

Labour Government set. I mean, when the economy slows down, the

:44:57.:45:07.
:45:07.:45:07.

sensible thing to do, it's the let the deficit widen temporarily -

:45:07.:45:13.

that's what's happened. Similarly, the Government has to borrow to do

:45:13.:45:20.

the kind of things Giles is talking about. That was deliberately

:45:20.:45:25.

allowing the debt to grow? What the Government is trying to do is two

:45:25.:45:30.

things. This is why the austerity versus growth argument is so

:45:30.:45:36.

foolish. The first is to try to get the public finances in order - we

:45:37.:45:42.

are doing that. You have to try and stimulate growth. That does involve

:45:42.:45:47.

doing some of the things Giles has described - and that's absolutely

:45:47.:45:57.
:45:57.:45:59.

right. So we have to have attempts to get growth alongside dealing

:45:59.:46:03.

with the deficit. The reason why this is so difficult is because we

:46:03.:46:07.

are dealing with a crisis the likes of which we have not had before. I

:46:07.:46:12.

have often said this is the economic equivalent of a heart

:46:12.:46:15.

attack. Economies don't just bounce back. We are dealing with a banking

:46:15.:46:18.

system that has been badly damaged. We are dealing with Government

:46:18.:46:22.

finances that have been hit in an extraordinary way. We are dealing

:46:22.:46:28.

with a pile-up of personal debt which Michael Heseltine described.

:46:28.:46:33.

Getting out of this crisis will be very difficult. It's got to be done

:46:33.:46:37.

by this combination of discipline with the public finances and trying

:46:37.:46:42.

to support and stimulate economic growth. You are saying that for the

:46:42.:46:46.

moment, Osborne's policy, the coalition policy, is deliberately

:46:46.:46:52.

to allow debt to increase because that will expand the economy?

:46:52.:46:57.

I have never heard it described like that. We are flexible and we

:46:57.:47:02.

have to be flexible. You, Sir? one thing they are not doing, there

:47:02.:47:08.

is a good idea to improve the rail service, not build HS2, but what

:47:08.:47:15.

they are not doing is cutting the enormous salaries of town hall

:47:15.:47:18.

workers, civil servants and their enormous pensions. That is the one

:47:18.:47:23.

thing they are not doing. They are cutting the wrong things and not

:47:23.:47:28.

expanding the right things. Building aircraft carriers with no

:47:28.:47:35.

aircraft - it is outrageous. APPLAUSE Michael Heseltine? Well,

:47:35.:47:40.

the reason why the deficit is continuing is because the

:47:40.:47:47.

Government has decided that it will not cut the Health Service. It will

:47:47.:47:51.

not emasculate - you may think - you want to cut the Health Service,

:47:51.:47:56.

you get elected on that platform. This coalition is not going to do

:47:56.:48:04.

it. The welfare system is being preserved largely in tact. So

:48:04.:48:10.

Vince's point is the right one... TELEPHONE RINGS There is a

:48:11.:48:15.

telephone going. Is that your wife?! LAUGHTER It is the

:48:15.:48:25.
:48:25.:48:26.

Chancellor! You have gone off message! No. My wife is supporting

:48:26.:48:33.

what I have been saying! She rang me to let me know! I'm not going to

:48:33.:48:39.

be stopped. The fact of the matter is, the reason why the economy and

:48:39.:48:43.

George Osborne's budget is taking longer to sort is because we are in

:48:43.:48:48.

the middle of a world recession that none of us have seen before.

:48:48.:48:52.

It's taking longer to sort out. There is no domestic policy that is

:48:52.:48:56.

going to make a serious difference to the world situation in which we

:48:56.:49:01.

trade. If we can't see recovery in Europe, if China is still slowing,

:49:01.:49:07.

if India is slowing, if America's got a cliff-edge situation, that

:49:07.:49:12.

limits our discretion and it is simply dishonest for any party to

:49:12.:49:17.

come and pretend there is a serious option. We have to sweat it out.

:49:17.:49:22.

The fact is the extraordinary thing to me in this relatively stagnant

:49:22.:49:26.

situation is we have got more people at work in this country

:49:26.:49:30.

today than we have ever had. We have more women at work. We have

:49:30.:49:36.

more young people at work. So, despite the appalling economic

:49:36.:49:41.

world circumstances, this coalition has managed to preserve employment

:49:41.:49:48.

at record levels. That is extraordinarily impressive. Diane

:49:48.:49:53.

Abbott? Sweat it out, the only thing to do? The problem is it is

:49:53.:49:56.

the poorest and middle-income people that are suffering because

:49:56.:50:02.

of this Government's economic policies. Dr Cable is a reasonable

:50:02.:50:07.

man, propping up an unreasonable Tory-led Government. Of course,

:50:07.:50:12.

George Osborne's figures are dodgy. You might argue a lot about George

:50:12.:50:17.

Osborne is dodgy! To be perfectly serious, they came in, this

:50:17.:50:21.

coalition, promising to cut the deficit in four years. To clear up

:50:21.:50:29.

your mess! No, you seem to have forgotten... APPLAUSE You seem to

:50:29.:50:37.

be overlooking... We can't overlook your mess! The collapse of Lehman's,

:50:37.:50:43.

but my point is this. The reason George Osborne's figures are dodgy

:50:43.:50:47.

is because he's completely predictable. You do not achieve

:50:47.:50:52.

growth by making the cuts in public expenditure that this Government

:50:52.:50:57.

has done. For Lord Heseltine to say, "The reason we can't clear up the

:50:57.:51:03.

deficit is because we didn't cut the NHS." Tell that to the people

:51:03.:51:11.

in Lewisham who are seeing their hospital close. APPLAUSE To clarify,

:51:11.:51:14.

are you saying therefore that the debt should be allowed to rise even

:51:14.:51:19.

further than it is rising at the moment? No. Oh yes you are. We have

:51:19.:51:23.

always said there had to be cuts. Cuts of this scale - the problem is,

:51:23.:51:29.

as you probably know, that when you cut in the public sector, it has a

:51:29.:51:33.

multiplier effect in the private sector. There are tradesmen,

:51:33.:51:38.

builders, service workers all across London who can't make money

:51:38.:51:42.

because of the cuts in public sector spending. The cuts the

:51:42.:51:47.

Tories have made have plunged us into a double-dip recession and if

:51:47.:51:53.

we are not very fortunate, it will be a triple-dip recession.

:51:53.:51:56.

Osborne's figures are off. The rest of us are paying the price.

:51:56.:52:05.

right. Yes, you, Sir? The problem doesn't matter if the deficit is

:52:05.:52:10.

growing at the moment. The problem is is the Bank of England's

:52:10.:52:13.

credibility about to be tested? We have rising rates and we have a

:52:14.:52:17.

falling currency. That is is a real problem. Can we manage our debt?

:52:17.:52:23.

You think the size of the deficit... It doesn't matter. Everybody has a

:52:23.:52:27.

large deficit. Can we manage it? Will it become a problem for the

:52:27.:52:31.

Bank of England? The woman behind you? I was going to say there are

:52:31.:52:37.

some areas of our economy that are still growing, like the creative

:52:37.:52:42.

and cultural industries which are 7% of our GDP. What can we do to

:52:42.:52:46.

help those industries? We will come to that point. The woman on the

:52:46.:52:53.

second row, third row from the back? I think corporate tax from

:52:53.:53:01.

private companies seem to be a driving force in raising a tax

:53:01.:53:06.

revenue and to help pay the country's deficit, what is the

:53:06.:53:12.

Government doing helping businesses and promoting growth? I'm not clear

:53:12.:53:18.

what you are saying. You should or shouldn't be relying on corporate

:53:18.:53:27.

tax? Corporate tax is helping raise tax revenue. The Government seems

:53:27.:53:31.

to be helping - the Government doesn't seem to be helping private

:53:32.:53:39.

businesses to promote growth. The man up there? I find it rather

:53:39.:53:46.

rich to hear Diane Abbott say that the public sector, there's cuts

:53:46.:53:51.

from Government expenditure. The Government is not really cutting

:53:51.:53:57.

public sector expenditure. It's still increasing in real terms. And

:53:57.:54:02.

what Labour left as an inheritance was so bad that the country is now

:54:02.:54:12.

having to pay the price for that. You, Sir? It is doing it in my

:54:12.:54:18.

hospital in Lewisham and it is doing it because neighbouring

:54:18.:54:22.

hospitals have such poor PFIs negotiated by the Government. They

:54:22.:54:26.

are closing a functioning hospital. They are making cuts where they can.

:54:26.:54:33.

Vince Cable, on the point of public sector cuts. Is he right or he

:54:33.:54:37.

right? There are certainly parts of Government where we have had to

:54:37.:54:42.

take painful measures and real cuts have had to be made. The NHS budget

:54:43.:54:50.

is protected. There are pressures on the NHS. I remember fighting

:54:50.:54:53.

hospital closures when Diane's party were this power. The NHS

:54:53.:54:56.

budget has been ringfenced and protected. The rest of Government

:54:56.:55:03.

is having to take some very serious cuts. You are looking pained?

:55:03.:55:11.

is a moral issue here. Seeing as we are sitting in the City of London

:55:11.:55:16.

and the city was part responsible for the financial mess. The banks,

:55:17.:55:22.

yes. If it is the case that it's people in this square mile that

:55:22.:55:25.

were largely responsible and yet the people who will pay the price

:55:25.:55:29.

for that are the poor and vulnerable on benefits and who need

:55:29.:55:39.

our hospitals and so forth, there is a moral problem with that

:55:39.:55:44.

equation. Peter Hitchens? Well, it is interesting to listen to the

:55:44.:55:53.

Conservative and Labour Party, which aren't that different.

:55:53.:55:57.

will be better? This isn't a crisis. This is national decline. We have

:55:57.:56:02.

been living for many, many years far beyond our means as a country

:56:02.:56:08.

and as people. And now the debts are being paid. They will be paid -

:56:08.:56:12.

this is already happening with the currency - it will happen more when

:56:12.:56:16.

we lose our AAA rating - through a decline in the value of the pound

:56:16.:56:22.

and the consequent inflation. It's happening already through state-

:56:22.:56:22.

sponsored inflation through quantitative easing. What will

:56:22.:56:28.

happen in the end is that we will cease to be able to pay because of

:56:28.:56:32.

this inflation and because of this decline for the things which we

:56:32.:56:37.

have refused to reform. As a country, we will not look in the

:56:37.:56:41.

face, no political party - Michael Heseltine is quite right - no

:56:41.:56:47.

political party will stand and say, "We will cut the National Health

:56:47.:56:51.

Service." They would lose the election. All right, don't let the

:56:51.:56:54.

Government do it. Let it happen through inflation and national

:56:54.:56:58.

decline. That is what you are seeing. This crisis will not end.

:56:58.:57:03.

It will go on and on as we sink to a lower level in the world. Do you

:57:03.:57:10.

agree with that? There is something in it. I have always been in favour

:57:10.:57:14.

of reducing public consumption. This morality issue is the one that

:57:14.:57:24.
:57:24.:57:29.

Just take this issue of welfare reform. Now, what this Government

:57:29.:57:35.

is doing in order to contain the welfare budget is saying that there

:57:35.:57:41.

can't be more for a family on welfare than the average earnings

:57:41.:57:47.

of those in work. In other words, the people paying the taxes in work

:57:47.:57:51.

shouldn't expect to sustain living standards for people on the welfare

:57:51.:57:55.

benefit. I can tell you that that will lead to people saying, "Oh,

:57:56.:58:03.

what about poor Willie "and it is a hard-luck story. That is is a moral

:58:03.:58:08.

issue. Why should the vast majority of people at work pay to sustain

:58:08.:58:13.

families who are out of work at higher living standards? That is a

:58:13.:58:20.

moral issue. APPLAUSE Vince Cable, briefly. We have to stop, actually.

:58:20.:58:28.

Our hour is up. We are going to be in Eastleigh next Thursday. We will

:58:28.:58:31.

go out live after the voting is over. We will be able to talk about

:58:31.:58:34.

over. We will be able to talk about why people voted the way they did.

:58:34.:58:39.

I don't know who is going to be on the penl yet, except for the film-

:58:39.:58:45.

maker -- the panel yet, except for the film-maker Ken Loach. We will

:58:45.:58:52.

be in Dover the week after. You can apply via

:58:52.:58:56.

David Dimbleby chairs Question Time from St Paul's Cathedral in London. On the panel are business secretary and Liberal Democrat Vince Cable MP; Labour shadow health minister Diane Abbott MP; former deputy prime minister Lord Heseltine; Rev Giles Fraser, who resigned from his position at St Paul's in 2011; and Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens.

This is the first time Question Time has been hosted from St Paul's. The debate takes place directly under the Cathedral's iconic dome.


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